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Gotham - John Doman, Camren Bicondova, Jada Pinkett Smith, Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith
Gotham - Carmine Falcone (John Doman), Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) and Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) are the villains ©2014 Fox Broadcasting, photo by Justin Stephens

Fox’s new series Gotham tells the origin story of Batman, with a young James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, Southland) taking on the job as a Gotham detective, determined to clean up the city where his father once served as a successful district attorney. When 12-year-old Bruce Wayne’s (David Mazourz, Touch) millionaire parents are murdered on the street, Gordon promises the child he will catch the killer.

Gotham is a city filled with villains, some new to the franchise, like gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), and others recognizable, before they became iconic characters – Selena Kyle, Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), and Edward Nygma, the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith).

The ‘villains’ of Gotham spoke at the TV Critics tour about their eagerly awaited series, which premieres on September 22nd, 2014.

You’re the principal villain. Fish Mooney terrorizes the Penguin, and orders executions.  It’s unlike anything you’ve done before, I think. How did you ramp up to do this role, and did you think you were capable of doing it?

Gotham - Jada Pinkett Smith
Gotham – Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) ©2014 Fox Broadcasting, photo by Justin Stephens

Jada: Well, I have to tell you, a lot of conversations with (Executive Producers) Bruno (Heller) and Danny (Cannon) and a lot of guidance from their vision and doing a bit of research of kind of a “collabo” of Griselda Blanco and Norma Desmond for this particular character.

But that was one of the reasons why I wanted to do it, was because I thought it was going to be such an incredible challenge, because it’s unlike anything I’ve done before.

Camren, Cory and Robin, you’re playing characters that are in the comics books and have been played in TV and film. Did you go back and do research, looking at all this past work, or did just want to bring your own vision to this?

Gotham - Camren Bicondova
Gotham – Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) aka Catwoman ©2014 Fox Broadcasting, photo by Justin Stephens

Camren: I’ve gone back into the comic books and online, watched the movies. Selina Kyle is not Catwoman yet. She doesn’t even know she’s going to become Catwoman.

She just knows she loves cats and she steals things. But in order for me to show the pathway towards Catwoman, I have to know who Catwoman is, and I can’t do that if I don’t research it.

Gotham - Cory Michael Smith
Gotham – Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) ©2014 Fox Broadcasting, photo by Justin Stephens

Cory: Though I am a huge Jim Carrey fan, I’ve never seen Batman Forever and I have no plan on watching it.

I’ve seen some of Frank Gorshin’s work, but I’ve certainly not watched the entire series or a significant portion of it.

I personally am just reading the comic books and using that. And also, I have my opinions.

I’m coming at it from what his psychology is, which I think is very different than what someone would know in the ‘60s.

So I’m coming at it very differently, I think, in terms of how he is interacting with people, having a different kind of bible. It’s driven by medical research.

Gotham - Robin Lord Taylor
Gotham – Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) aka the Penguin ©2014 Fox Broadcasting, photo by Justin Stephens

Robin: I watched Batman Returns, I think, 500 times when I was a kid because it was on HBO literally every day.

So I’ve definitely seen Danny DeVito’s portrayal many, many times. And then I also like watching the reruns of the old television show with Burgess Meredith – two amazing iconic actors with two very different portrayals and approaches. I’m sure, subconsciously, I am influenced by that.

As a kid, I didn’t read many of the comic books, but now, going back and researching the Penguin and where he comes from and what his deal was has been incredibly invaluable and fun.

Gotham Audios

Jada was asked if she thinks women make better villains and after the panel, I caught up with Robin Lord Taylor to tell him how creepy I thought he was as The Penguin. Click below for their reactions.